Stampeders look to control playoff destiny in battle against B.C. Lions

Stamps (11-6) need to beat the B.C. Lions (5-12) to cement position

Quarterback Bo Levi Mitchell knows that his Calgary Stampeders need to win “no matter what” this weekend.

Heading into the final week of the CFL’s regular season, the Stamps are still locked in a battle with the Saskatchewan Roughriders for first place in the West — with a crucial bye week and home playoff spot on the line.

“We’d love to be in first place, have it locked up, be resting guys because we’re not the healthiest team in the world,” Mitchell said Friday. “We’ve got guys who are banged up. I’m sure everybody does. But we’d love to have that bye week to get guys ready to go.”

In order to cement their position atop the standings, however, the Stamps (11-6) need to beat the B.C. Lions (5-12) in Vancouver on Saturday night.

Calgary will also need some help from its Alberta rivals. If Saskatchewan (12-5) beats or ties the Edmonton Eskimos on Saturday, the Riders will automatically lock up a first-place finish, regardless of how the Lions-Stamps game ends.

Mitchell and Calgary wide receiver Reggie Begelton both admitted that they’ll likely watch a bit of the Esks-Riders matchup before turning their attention to game prep.

That doesn’t mean the Stampeders are pinning their playoff hopes on another team’s results, however.

“It just doesn’t change anything for us. No matter what, we have to win our game, whether it’s for first or third or second,” Mitchell said. “So we’ll see if we get a little bit lucky in that sense. But we’re just going to go out there and fight for what we can fight for.”

Calgary heads into Saturday’s contest on a two-game losing skid after dropping back-to-back games against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers.

The last couple of weeks have made the team realize they need to have some urgency to their play, Begelton said.

“Throughout the year you lose a game, you’re like ‘Oh, OK. Well, we got to back on our feet,’” he said. “But now it’s to that point where you have to be extra critical of the things that you want to fix because you really don’t have any more time. It’s playoff football. You have to get it now.”

Heading into the post-season, Stamps coach Dave Dickenson feels that his group still has a lot of work to do if they want to get to the Grey Cup final and defend last year’s title.

“We’re not playing at championship level yet,” he said. ”We’ve got to get there if we want to have a chance. But I’m confident in the guys in the room that we can get there.”

The squad has been “scratching and fighting” all year, Dickenson said, and he wants to see more consistency from the group come Saturday. That means seeing special teams deliver more plays, while the offence and defence string together a solid 60 minutes.

“We know it’s not going to be perfect but I do need to see some play makers,” the coach said.

B.C. was ruled out of post-season play weeks ago after starting the year with a dismal 1-10 record.

But Lions coach DeVone Claybrooks said the home still has something to prove heading into its final game of the season on Saturday.

“You want to make sure that you’re building a solid foundation to be competitive and compete for championships. And I think we’re trending in that direction,” he said. “You’ve got some holes and some things you want to clean up and the key to that is identifying what you need to fix and how you need to fix it and those steps and that’s a process in itself as well.”

The Lions have yet to beat a West Division rival this year — a fact that isn’t lost on the team’s top receiver, Bryan Burnham.

“It’s been rough. We’ve been in some games, but it’s been rough,” he said. ”So it would definitely feel good to go out on a high note and beat a good Calgary team that’s going into making another Grey Cup run.”

Burnham heads into Saturday’s matchup with a career-high 1,401 receiving yards, good for second in the league.

CALGARY STAMPEDERS (11-6) VS. B.C. LIONS (5-12)

Saturday, B.C. Place

WORST CASE SCENARIO: A Saskatchewan win and a Calgary loss on Saturday would see the Stampeders finish third in the West. In that case, Winnipeg would host Calgary in the western semifinal on Nov. 10.

CLOSE GAME: The Stampeders have gotten used to tight scores this season — 13 of Calgary’s games have been won by seven points or less.

RUSHING TO FINISH: Lions running back John White comes into Saturday’s contest having rushed for 960 yards this year. If the 28-year-old can add at least another 40 yards against Calgary, it will mark White’s first 1,000-yard CFL season.

LAST HURRAH: Stampeders defensive back Brandon Smith will play his last regular-season game on Saturday. The 35-year-old California native announced last month that he will retire at the end of this season. Smith has spent his entire 12-year CFL career in Calgary, tallying 641 tackles in 156 career games and winning three Grey Cups.

Gemma Karstens-Smith, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

B.C. First Nation Chief Ed John faces historic sex charges

John served as minister for children and families under then-premier Ujjah Dosanjh

‘Pets R Family 2’ welcomes pet grooming to their Barriere store

By Elli Kohnert Barriere’s pet supply store has a new service in-house.… Continue reading

RCMP extending Barriere Block Watch to detachment coverage area

Block Watch meetings are held the fourth Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. at the Barriere Ridge

Farewell to the Clearwater-Vavenby Lions Club

Submitted The Clearwater-Vavenby Lions Club was a local group of service-minded men… Continue reading

Simpcw First Nation’s business arm brings national recognition

By Sam Laskaris Cando Contributor The Simpcw First Nation is proof that… Continue reading

VIDEO: Disney Plus adds disclaimer about racist stereotypes

Disney’s disclaimer is a good way to begin discussion about the larger issue of racism

First Nations ‘optimistic’ about road upgrades after Horgan visits site of fatal bus crash

Premier travelled Bamfield Main road, where bus flipped last September and two students were killed

Princeton couple pays for dream vacation with 840,000 grocery store points

It’s easy if you know what you are doing, they say

B.C. man facing 18 charges after hidden camera found in Kelowna winery washroom

The camera was found at Summerhill Winery on Aug. 23

No new rules needed to ensure timely youth justice, Supreme Court says

Charter of Rights and Freedoms says someone charged with an offence has the right to be tried within a reasonable time

Seguin lifts surging Stars to 4-2 win over Canucks

Dallas is 6-0-1 in last seven outings

B.C. government working with RCMP to address $10 million in budget cuts

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth issues statement following report of RCMP cost-cutting

‘City that protects rapists’: Sexual assault survivor slams Kelowna mayor for defending RCMP

Heather Friesen spent the morning handing out flyers around city hall calling out the mayor

Most Read